Monday, May 13, 2013

Researching Witnesses

Conducting a search at the St. Louis Genealogical Society database this weekend I found four transcriptions of Naturalization Index Cards of interest to my family history research.

Witnesses are there to testify that they know the individual. They might be neighbors, friends, colleagues, or even relatives.

In this case, it is the witnesses who are my relatives, and those in the naturalization process who are unknowns to me.  I am thankful that the database was set up so that the witnesses were indexed. That's not always the case.

I have a suspicion it is more likely they were friends, neighbors, or colleagues than relatives, so I'm not going to spend too much time on it. However, since these records date to 1900 and 1901, I'd like to at least see if I can match them up with someone in the 1900 census, and record that information for any future researcher who might wish to investigate more deeply.

I also want to positively identify which of my kin were the witnesses. The first step will be to find the microfilmed naturalization records at the local library, so I can see the signatures of the witnesses.

The names from the transcriptions appear to be:
  • Morris Cruvand
  • Ben Cruvand
  • B. Cruvant
The most likely kin include:
  • My great great grandfather, Moshe Leyb (Morris Louis) Cruvant
  • Morris's son, Ben Cruvant.
  • Morris's nephew, Ben Cruvand
Since multiple branches of the family settled on different spellings of the surname, it is very possible individuals weren't consistent throughout their life on their spelling of choice. But I have copies of signatures from other documents, so hopefully I will be able to match those up.

Ben Cruvant put down an 1883 birth year on his WWI Draft Card, which would imply he was only 17 in 1900. Witnesses most likely had to be at least 18, but that doesn't mean Ben didn't lie about his age in order to be a witness, or perhaps he lied on his draft card. His birth certificate hasn't been discovered in Lithuanian records.


Ken Zimmerman Jr. said...

Thanks for passing along this resource. I found my great great grandfather was naturalized on July 10, 1892. They came to St. Louis from Wuppertal, Germany in the 1870s.

Joan said...

Thanks for reminding me of this resource. The witnesses for the naturalization of the group of Scots that I have been tracking seem to have more of a family tie -- but not easy to crack --- or I could be trying to find a family tie that isn't there. Nevertheless, as I track the witnesses down, they all seem to come from the same area in Scotland. I'll have to revisit this research again. Thanks again.